Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

After Cutting to the Bone, a Little Relief for House Members and Committees

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Miller said committees must lead by example when it comes to cost-cutting.

In contrast, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., assessed that committee spending cuts have not caused too big a strain for his staff, which worked through the holiday break to draft spending legislation.

“I can’t say enough about the staff, how hardworking they have been and are, and this is a huge load they are dealing with — this huge, trillion-dollar, 30-day exercise — but I don’t think that we’ve had a terrible problem with shortage of staff,” Rogers said. “We could use some more, but ... if we were going to expect other people to sacrifice, we thought it wise that we sacrifice ourselves first, so that’s how it came to be.”

House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., who took the purse strings for Congress’ own budget in November, also believes in leading by example. After taking a long, hard look at the chamber’s housekeeping requirements, Cole said he determined “there’s just a lot of accumulated needs.”

“If you’re going to have real oversight, you have to have a good staff, and you’ve got to retain them,” Cole told CQ Roll Call. “I think our staffs, both collectively at the committee level and individually, have more than stepped up to the plate, so it’s time to sort of end that and try to restore capability, because I think that’s probably the most important issue that Congress will be dealing with, is oversight.”

Appropriators have unveiled a legislative branch spending bill that contains close to $1.2 billion to fund the operations of the House. The total is about $45 million less than the 2013 level, but a $19 million increase from the sequester levels that went into effect March 1.

After three years of major cuts, Cole said he was aiming, with the support of House GOP leadership, to “make this place operate better and on a little firmer footing.”

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